These tips are excerpted from an earlier article I wrote highlighting many ways that sketchnotes are being used by scientists. The following tips, though, are broadly applicable for many kinds of note-taking situations.
- Keep your supplies simple and portable. A ballpoint pen and one color (marker, colored pencil, even a crayon!) can produce delightful results.
- Use frames to organize/design page layout. You can even set up your pages in advance, making frames for intro, main points, conclusion, key questions, etc.
- Incorporate text into your sketches. Be sure to include your own questions and observations. Your personal “feedback” will make the sketches particularly interesting/valuable to you later.
- Use only one spot/accent color. Realistic colors are hard to achieve quickly in a dark room. Instead, use color as a design device, to highlight key points or thought flows.
- Using a quick sketch to capture the essence. Even if your sketch isn’t technically accurate, it will help you make or remember a point.
- Think of yourself as a curator. Don’t try to capture everything, and don’t worry about what you should draw. Sketch what interests you.
Want to take sketching seriously? Here are a few resources for sketchnoting and drawing:
- SciComm Section’s multimedia resource guide; my section on sketching includes lots of links and tips.
- Expert tips re portable sketching materials
- One sketchnoter’s take on “Sketch noting 101”
- 20 tips for “How to create awesome visual notes” – detailed “training” for serious sketchnoting; point 12 is a great starting point for simple punchy sketches – Contrast, Repetition, Alignment & Proximity are key considerations.
- Search “sketchnotes” or #sketchnotes for inspiration from folks like Perrin Ireland, a professional “visual scribe.” Take a careful look at the sketch notes you most appreciate, and try copying some of their techniques – color, use of arrows and inventive fonts, page layout, etc.
What doodling can do for your brain: